2 PRESCRIBED TOPIC FROM CORE CONTENT Click here to see the topics for your exam
Paper 2 is the most
difficult paper to prepare for because it changes so much from year to
year. These changes can take many forms and may affect:
Type of questions
Wording of the
Number of sources and
number of questions
On the other hand, the
skills you need to answer the questions donít change, so part of your
exam preparation should be to familiarise yourself with the range of
questions that are asked, and not to be put off by the unexpected!
Almost every question
in Paper 2 tests the following general sourcework skills
of people lose precious marks each year because they canít work out what
the question is asking them to do, and consequently they donít know
which specific skill they need to use in order to answer the question
well. On the other hand, life becomes very much easier when you know what
the examiner wants you to do, and you can often work out what skill the
question is testing simply by the way it is worded.
do you think this poster was published (eg in America in 1971)?
can you learn about (eg the events of 1968 in Czechoslovakia) from
is the message of this (eg cartoon)?
tip: Use short, PRECISE quotations from the sources to support your 'own
words' explanation of what the source is saying.
these two sources prove that (eg the Tet Offensive was a success for
the Viet Cong)?
you surprised by this source?
far does Source C prove that Source B is more reliable than Source A
ĎThese two sources prove that it was wrong (eg for Britain and
France to object to Anschluss).í
one of these sources more reliable than the other as evidence about (eg
the effectiveness of the League)?
can you explain the different reactions of Sources I, J and K (eg to
the massacre at My Lai)?
tip: Reliability requires you to consider both the PROVENANCE (who? when?
where?=WHY?) and the CONTENT (fact/opinion, contradiction/corroboration,
source type, language and tone etc.)
source is the more useful in helping you to understand (eg the nature
of the war in Vietnam)?
useful is this cartoon to an historian studying (eg the League of
tip: Usefulness requires you to consider the 3 'R's - Is the source
RELEVANT?, REVEALING? and RELIABLE?. An unreliable source can still be
useful. Think hard about why a particular source may be of use to an
historian. A rare, unusual or special type of source can be particularly
AND DIFFERENCE (compare and contrast) QUESTIONS
far do these two sources agree (eg about Johnsonís conduct of the
these two sources show similar opinions about (eg American policy in
different are the messages of these two (eg cartoons)?
far do these two sources differ?
similar are the messages of these (eg cartoons)?
tip: All sources say similar things to some extent. Always try to identify
similarities and differences. Always reach a conclusion that ATBQ ie that
sources are either more similar/different than each other.
FINALLY, THE LAST QUESTION
is the only question that does not change, so itís the one you can
prepare for best of all. The good news is, itís also worth the most
marks! Typically, you will be given a statement and asked to make a
comment about it. For example, How far do these sources show that Britain
and France were to blame for the Anschluss? Explain your answer.
work out which sources support the statement and which ones donít.
Secondly, plan to write a balanced answer which clearly addresses both
sides of the question. Next, simply evaluate the sources and back up your
opinions using contextual knowledge. Finally, remember to answer the
question at the end! In this case, for example, you could say that Britain
and France were not to blame, partly to blame, mostly to blame, or totally
to blame for the Anschluss.
which support the statement
which donít support the statement
H, I, J
B, C, D, E, F
banned by Treaty of Versailles
basic rule for this question is that you must always make specific
reference to the sources in your answer. That means saying things like
ĎSource A supports the statement because Öí and ĎI can trust
Source B because Öí Use your contextual knowledge to back up your
opinions about the sources and also to fill in the gaps in the story: for
instance, the sources donít mention that Britain and France led the
League of Nations, which in turn was responsible for upholding the terms
of the Treaty of Versailles Ė and which had forbidden the Anschluss in
the first place!
tip - There are two bonus marks available in this last question for
assessing or reassessing the RELIABILITY of some of the sources you are
considering! Every year more students lose marks on this part of the paper
than any other.